Outdoor markets, warmly lit downtowns, cozy restaurants, cheerful locals... there is something special about American…
Mother’s Day may come once a year, but I say anytime is a good time to travel with mom.
She spent years taking care of you– feeding you, changing your diapers, worrying when you stayed out past curfew. Why not treat mom to an amazing vacation? It’s a great way to say thanks, reconnect and build new memories. Here’s a few amazing places to visit with that special lady in your life.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
I adore Santa Fe. It’s a place that I’ve returned to six times and have brought my mom and my sister on separate girl’s trips. I love this town not only for its desert beauty, but rich art and culture. A few of my favorite things to do in this stunning desert oasis:
- Stroll through historic downtown Santa Fe, soaking up the native American culture, architecture and art scene.
- Visit Canyon Road for over 100 no-attitude art galleries. Sculptures,paintings, ceramics– trust me, there’s something for everyone.
- Check out the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. You’re in Santa Fe– this one is a non-negotiable!
- New Mexico is known for its stunning silver and turquoise jewelry. Buy something special for mom (or just window shop).
- Indulge in a spa treatment you can only find in energy vortex. 10,000 Waves is my go-to.
- Get your blood pumping on a stunning hike outside of town. A favorite has to be the Aspen Vista Hiking Trail.
- Refuel (and drink margaritas!) at Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, a homey Mexican spot open since 1952.
- Celebrating? There’s no better place to do that than at the James Beard award-winning restaurant, Compound.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
I may be a little biased (it’s my hometown, after all!), but I love Portsmouth. Settled in 1623, this waterfront city is incredibly walkable, with a historic downtown chockfull of restaurants, cafes, ice cream parlors and boutique mom and pop shops. We like to joke Gap had to move out. Here’s where to go on your next visit:
- Spend a day at Strawbery Banke, a 10-acre, open-air historic museum. It’s Portsmouth’s oldest neighborhood, and features original homes, taverns and shops all from the 17th and 18th century. A few of the homes are open to the public, including that of John Paul Jones, known as the father of the U.S Navy.
- Take in a show at the historic Music Hall Theater. This Victorian-era establishment boasts incredible concerts, stand-up performances and cinema.
- Drop your bags at Wentworth By the Sea, the old Grand Dame hotel reminiscent of the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego.
- Tuck into fresh, delicious seafood (paired with live music!) at Dolphin Striker, a local favorite since the mid-70s.
Wilmington, Delaware & the Brandywine Valley
A trip to Wilmington is all about seeing America’s early aristocracy (think of it as a way to heal your mother’s broken heart now that Downton Abbey is really over). Here’s a few of my must-dos:
- Visit Winterthur, the magnificent 175-room estate of Henry DuPont (as in the DuPont’s) boasting beautiful gardens and one of the largest collections of early American furniture.
- Road trip through the scenic Brandywine Valley, which offers beautiful vistas of pastoral landscapes you thought only existed in paintings.
- Check-in to one of my all-time favorite hotels, the Inn at Montchanin Village. It’s not so much that the hotel is in the village of Montchanin. Rather, it is the village! Stay in a luxuriously renovated cottage that once housed the workers of Winterthur.
- Wander through the Brandywine Museum, soaking up early American art.
St. Petersburg, Florida
I love St. Pete as a destination for mom. Sunshine, beaches, art and sunset cruises– sounds like heaven, and I am sure she’ll agree! Some local highlights:
- Even if you’re not typically an art lover, there’s something intoxicating about The Dali (a museum dedicated to Salvador Dali’s works) as well as the and Dale Chihuly Gallery. Spend a morning at either and who knows? You might find yourself inspired to pick up the ol’ paintbrush.
- When you think shuffleboard, you think old people. But I want you rid your brain of that stereotype because the Petersburg Shuffleboard Club is seriously fun. Founded in 1924, this 90-year-old private recreation club opens their doors to the public every Friday 7 to 11pm. Just do it.
Fun fact: this place inspired the hispterified Royal Palms shuffleboard club in Brooklyn.
- You’re on the west coast of Florida, so why not check out a beautiful sunset cruise? There are tons available, on all kinds of ships– from sailboats to yachts.
- You can’t mention St. Pete without talking about the miles of white powder sandy beaches and warm calm Gulf waters. It’s certainly worth it to drive north to Clearwater Beach for the day.
- Stroll through the Saturday Morning Market, where the city’s main road shuts down to host a lovely farmer’s market (with plenty of free samples!).
- Spend an afternoon checking out St. Pete’s Pier, where (amongst other things) you’ll find a stunning public restroom built in the Romanesque-style. Really, you can’t make this stuff up!
Louisville is more than horse racing and bourbon drinking (though to be fair, you should enjoy both while there!). Here’s a few spots to take mom in the Ville:
- Spend a few hours wandering through the East Market District, a revitalized area now called NuLu stocked with charming antique stores, art galleries and more.
- A trip to Churchill Downs is a must, even on a non-derby day.
- With the Humana Festival of New Plays and the critically acclaimed Actor’s Theater of Louisville, this city has a strong theatrical heart. Check in to see what is on stage.
- Grab lunch at Wagner’s Pharmacy. Open since 1922, this is where horsemen would come to get their cigarettes and food. Lunch counter hasn’t changed much.
- Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Cherokee Park offers over 400 acres of meadows, trails and hills to explore.
- Oh yeah, and there’s the bourbon. Visit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail’s site for info on the best hooch in the land.
- Check out all the unique things to do in Louisville with mom too!
For a little R&R with mom, I say opt for a long weekend in Fredericksburg. This historic small town (population: 10,829) boasts quaint bed and breakfasts, great dining, stunning drives and wineries. Yes, you heard that right! My top picks:
- They call it NEW Texas gold, but you and I will keep calling it wine. There’s a handful of places to sample the local vino. My suggestion? Book a wine tour with transport and don’t spend one second worrying about whether or not you’re over the legal limit.
- Experience the great outdoors at Enchanted Rock Natural Area, a large pink rock that rises like a dome, much like Ayers Rock in the Australian Outback. Hike to the top or around it for beautiful views.
- Show off your dance moves at one of the the three historic dance halls in town. Fingers crossed mom gets twirled on the dance floor by a handsome cowboy.
- Support the local economy by shopping and dining in Fredericksburg’s charming historic district.
I like think of Puerto Rico as a tropical island and Europe-inspired destination in one. Bonus? No passport needed! Here’s where to go:
- Get that old, sleepy European vibe in Old San Juan, which boasts more than 400 restored buildings from the 16th and 17th Centuries.
- Have a Panama hat made at Ole on Forteleza Street (c’mon, you know you want one!).
- Check out the Puerto Rican Museum of Contemporary Art.
- Visit El Morro, the beautiful seaside fort. There’s a great lawn where families fly kites.
- Check another National Park off your list with El Yunque– the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest system.
- Enjoy drinks and dinner in the courtyard at the breathtaking El Convento, a restaurant and hotel housed in a former convent.
- Old San Juan is walking distance to the tranquil and family-friendly beach, Playa Escambron. You’ll find Condado and Isla Verde beaches just a short cab ride away.
Santa Barbara, California
As far as destinations, it’s hard to beat Santa Barbara. It’s got everything: mountains, beach, sunny skies, friendly people and lots of fun things to do. This is truly one of those places where I can’t help but think, “People actually live like this? No fair!” Some local favorites:
- Kick back with tacos and margaritas at Los Agaves.
- Channel your inner artist at Art from Scrap, an upcycling and crafting studio.
- Spend an afternoon checking out beautiful downtown Santa Barbara. Fantastic shopping and just plain ol’ wandering.
- Love wine? You’ll adore Urban Wine Trail, where you can taste wine from the central coast without all the driving.
- Feeling adventurous? Try Paddleboarding on the bay. I love it beacuse it’s one of the only water sports that doesn’t get your hair wet!
- Enjoy the fresh California air at Douglas Family preserve. Easy hikes with amazing views of the coast.
- Crave something less physical? The Santa Barbara Botanical Garden has your name written all over it.
- For a bit of history and a fantastic meal, hit up Cold Spring Tavern. Originally built as a stagecoach stop in 1886, these guys still serve excellent breakfast, lunch and dinner in an incredibly quaint setting.
The minute you arrive in beautiful Jackson, you and mom will start thinking of ways that will allow you to move there: Maybe we could open a coffee shop? Mend fences? Finally, an opportunity to launch our chainsaw art career! Who wants a giant, wooden bald eagle? All kidding aside, I love the vibe in this quaint mountain town. Here’s where to hang out:
- Spend a day (at least!) at Grand Tetons National Park. One of my favorites spots is Jenny Lake, which offers great hikiing as well as boat rides.
- Stroll through historic downtown. Trust me, you won’t get bored.
- Two of my favorite restaurants are just a few blocks off the main town square, toward E. Broadway. There’s Café Genevieve (a perfect, hearty breakfast) and Persephone Bakery who serve up amazing coffee, croissants, and wine.
- A few hours in Jackson will leave you hankering for a pair of cowboy boots. I love Vintage Jackson, where you can get your cowgirl on without selling the farm.
- Speaking of farm, pretend what it might be like to buy one by checking out the Sotheby’s store window. Lots of luxury listings, including ranches. In my dreams!
- For something a little more affordable, pay a visit to clairvoyant Carroll Ann at Cosmic Café. Who knows– maybe a big windfall is in your future.
Every mom deserves a Hollywood getaway-getaway, and for that, there’s no place like Palm Springs. Here’s how to treat mom like the starlet she is.
- Walk the neighborhoods and check out the mid century modern homes. A favorite is the Movie Colony, home to the former residences of folks like Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and Jack Benny. You could do a self-guided tour, or sign up for something more official, like a Palm Springs Architecture Tour.
- Do a little high end vintage shopping on Palm Canyon Drive, stopping at places like AlaMod 768 and PS Modern Way. For vintage inspired threads, you can’t beat Trina Turk’s Palm Springs outpost.
- Pretend you’re a honorary Rat Packer at Melvyn’s, where you can indulge in table side Caesar salad served by tuxedoed waiters.
- Enjoy the dry desert air on a two-mile loop hike thru Tahquitz Canyon, which leads to a 60-foot waterfall. For something a little more adventurous, take the Aerial Tram up to the top of the Jacinto Mountains. Hike around, or simply soak up the view.
Where’s your favorite place to travel with mom? Share in the comments!